Mumbai: The hearing of the appeal filed by Bollywood star Salman Khan against his five-year sentence in the 2002 hit-and-run case started in the Bombay High Court today as his lawyer argued that the trial court made a mistake in holding that the actor himself was driving the car.
Salman was convicted on May 6 by the sessions court for ramming his car into a shop in suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002, killing one person and injuring four. He was sentenced to five years in jail for, among other charges, culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Justice A R Joshi today also dismissed an intervention application filed by Sushilabai Patil, mother of Ravindra Patil, the police bodyguard of the actor who was eye-witness to the mishap. Ravindra Patil died during the trial in 2007.
She had sought cancellation of Salman's bail, granted by the magistrate earlier and by the High Court after admitting his appeal. Salman had been convicted twice for cognisable offences in Jodhpur and he should not get bail, she had said.
The application also contended that Salman may be awarded the maximum sentence of ten years for culpable homicide.
However the HC refused to entertain the plea, saying that Ravindra Patil could not be said to be a victim of the mishap (as his mother had argued, to justify the intervention).
In another development, in response to an application by Salman's lawyer Amit Desai, the judge imposed certain restrictions on the media. The media cannot make audio or video recording of the court proceedings and comment on the arguments; it should report only facts, Justice Joshi said.
Desai argued that the lower court wrongly rejected Salman's defence that it was his driver Ashok Singh and not he who was driving the car at the time of mishap. The prosecution had also failed to prove that the actor had taken drinks before the accident, Desai said.
Advocate Desai said there were three witnesses – Patil, singer Kamaal Khan and Ashok Singh (driver) -- who were in the car when the mishap occurred. But police chose to rely only on Patil's statement though he was dead and hence not available for cross-examination.
Police did not make any effort to bring other eye witnesses to depose about who was actually driving. The trial court discarded the defence that Ashok Singh was driving the car, saying he had been "got up" to help defence 13 years after the mishap, but a defence witness can step into the witness box only after the prosecution's case is over, Desai argued.
The lawyer also referred to the defence theory that a burst tyre caused the accident.
The prosecution failed to prove that Salman had consumed drinks at two bars before the accident, Desai said. All that a waiter at the bar had said was he had seen the actor holding a glass of colourless liquid; it could be just water, said advocate Desai.
The hearing would continue on August 5.